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Keywords:

  • acute hepatitis;
  • epidemiology;
  • indigenous;
  • jaundice;
  • liver function tests

Abstract

Hepatitis E virus (HEV) is a ribonucleic acid (RNA) virus with predominant fecal oral spread. Traditionally in Western Europe it is associated with travel to endemic countries, but an increasing number of locally acquired cases have been reported throughout England. Patients presenting with acute non-travel associated HEV infection in south Wales over a 25-month period were monitored, in an attempt to understand the clinical picture and epidemiology in our patient population. Twenty-four patients were identified with non-travel associated HEV infection and studied prospectively. Patient demographics, symptoms, and serial laboratory results were recorded. There was a male/female ratio of 3:1, with a median patient age of 65.5 years old. Patients developed a significant icteric hepatitis (median peak bilirubin: 139 µmol/L, median peak AST: 1,973 IU/L and ALT: 2,021 IU/L), with liver function remaining abnormal for ∼7 weeks. All patients in whom HEV RNA was isolated were infected with genotype 3. Forty-six percent of patients presented during winter months. The data show a group mortality rate of 4.2%, similar to that reported in endemic countries. HEV results in a severe and occasionally fatal hepatitis. Testing for hepatitis E is now recommended in any patient presenting with acute hepatitis of unknown etiology. J. Med. Virol. 82:1899–1902, 2010. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.